"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

So I follow two blogs that have a mid-week rambling/randoms post on Wednesday where they just sort of bullet out different things that are going on.  I think that I want to start up the same thing on Tuesday’s but call it Tuesday Tidbits… really I could do it any day, but this way it gets it a nice alliterative name.

  • Our good friends Blake and Ashley from New Orlean’s Northshore are going to be on House Hunters!  Nick and mine’s favorite show.  Tune in next week to watch them.  This the link to their episode: http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters/a-growing-family-looks-for-a-five-bedroom-home-near-new-orleans/index.html
  • I really miss my friends from Louisiana.  I mean like crazy miss them!  Elysha, my precious, most favorite person to spend time with (besides Nick and Isla) has started her own blog.  You can read it HERE – we love her and her husband.  They are hilarious and goofy and I hate going through an election season without them.  Who else will make fun of the candidates with me?
  • But I love my friends here in Russia too.  They are sweet as can be!  Smile.
  • Isla has been having the hardest time with naps and bedtime since we got back from Texas in January, and our trip to the Netherlands didn’t help.  This age is really challenging for me.  She will be totally exhausted but refuse to sleep! I even let her nap in my bed with with me laying down with her, and no dice.  She will fight both for hours.  So I have had almost no free time plus a cranky baby.  It has been exhausting and I have been unable to function or complete any household tasks.  I am not sure what to do.
  • I gained 7 pounds when I went back to Texas over Christmas… I am trying to lose it and I have been getting up early and doing the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels video and we are trying to eat healthier.  I haven’t lost a pound and I am discovering that I just don’t know how to lose weight! Nick of course has lost about 10 pounds and he is back to his wedding weight. Smile
  • We have been obsessed with pomegranates and have been eating 2 or 3 a day!  Go get yourself some, they are delicious and so good for you. Pomegranate02_edit
  • Nick had last Thursday off for Men’s Day here in Russia.  We went for a walk and their was a big show at the little promenade that leads to the big promenade by the sea.  Isla was mesmerized by it and kept clapping!  She was adorable.154
  • Awww, how cute are these two!  Its hard to believe that either of them can ever make me mad looking at these pictures.136137138
  • Nick is going snowboarding on our church retreat this Thursday.  He went and bought some gear and I am excited for him!  I hope it goes ok and that he doesn’t hurt himself.
  • Isla and I are going Friday to look into a “Mommy and Me” type class at a place called Fast Track Kids, where some of the other kids of people who work for Nick’s company go.  I think that it will be good for both of us to be in some structured together time.  I hope it works out!  Also, eeks, it is all in Russian.
  • Our Bible Study class on Wednesday nights is going so well!!!  I am so happy with the people who are coming.  Liosha comes too and plays with Isla.  She is crazy about him!  I love this picture.049
  • I’ve mentioned before that the Russian babushkas always come up and fuss over babies and what they are wearing here.  Lately I have taken to bundling up Isla like a starfish so that they won’t get onto me.  They haven’t stopped me as much as before.  Well when we went out for a walk last week, I had a babushka come up and fuss over Isla and at me over this… 148  …my crime, exposing her hair!  Seriously, these babushkas are cute but they are a little bit crazy.
  • One more picture from that walk – I should have just done its own post, but Isla made a friend at the playground.  So cute! 109
  • We went walking with my friend Monica and her dog Julie yesterday and Isla got to hold the leash.  She thought she was hot stuff!  I wish that I had gotten a picture.
  • I do love this little heap of preciousness so much! 116

Holiday Inn in Leiden

So… some people may be wondering why I am dedicating an entire post to a hotel… well my friends, this hotel was the stuff of my childhood fantasies.  I remember it well. I thought it was the coolest place ever. It had an entire kids section with lots of things for kids to do.  We used to go sometimes and play on the giant chess board!  Does it get any cooler than a giant chess board with giant pieces you can move around? Not in my book.  I was so excited when my mom told me that she booked four nights there – a steal at only $100/night Smile.

Sadly the giant chess board is a thing of the past, but they still have a great pool and really fun kids zone!  I wish all hotels were so family friendly.

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Isla’s favorite thing was the slide, but we had to watch her close because she would come flying off that thing!

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My sweet, happy girl!  I wish that she had more opportunities to play in places like this.

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At first she was a little scared of the ball pit, but once she figured out how to get in and out she was happy as a clam!

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Loving it!

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Can you spot Pawpaw in the background?

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Poor guy had to work throughout his entire vacation.

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Thankfully he was able to take breaks to play with Isla.  She loves him so much.

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I know you are not supposed to try to live out your childhood through your own children, but in this case – I don’t think Isla minded so much!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bastogne

“The only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead.” – Colin Powell

We were blessed enough while on our vacation to be able to visit the Battle of the Bulge World War II memorial in Bastogne, Belgium.  To tell you the truth, I am not that into war history – usually when I read history, I read up to the start of a war, find out who won, and then move on, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the sacrifice of those who fought and died in those wars.  I want to write something really “poetical” right now, but I am not gifted with words.  I will only say that I am truly thankful for our volunteer army and our American men who fight and die for the freedom of others.

Even with that, there is something extra special about the Greatest Generation of Americans.  I don’t think that United States has ever participated in a cause so just before or since World War II and the defeat of the Nazis and Japan.  And as a patriotic side note – we fought two countries that we (the USA) rebuilt when we could have just left them desolate, Japan and Germany are now thriving International powerhouses thanks to the US.  You’re welcome world!

My little tough tank girl.

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I am pretty sure my dad was crying in this one.

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Its hard to tell from the picture, but the memorial was pretty impressive.  I couldn’t find an aerial view on Google Images in the 2 minutes I spent looking, but it is shaped like a star with a circle in the middle and it has the states where each of the soldiers were from along the outside legs and the inside circle.  I think that it was the states that the soldiers who fought were from because I didn’t see Pennsylvania… although maybe I missed it and it was just all 50 states.

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Of course Texas, where the bravest of the brave are from!  More specifically… Texas A&M, but we will let it go.

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And Louisiana, those other brave southerners (that one is for my little Cajun Queen Isla).

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Ok, Dad was definitely crying in this one.

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Steps leading down to the chapel.

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The three faiths chapel with three altars, Catholic, Christian and Jewish.

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It was so cold at the memorial, I don’t know how soldiers were able to survive the weather let alone fight for months during the winter!  After our 30 minute walk, we were ready to find a warm place and enjoy some pomme frittes!  Yum, yum.

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Anne Frank House

We only had one afternoon to spend in Amsterdam, and we chose to spend it at the Anne Frank House, but first, we were hungry!  This is not really important except that I had the most amazing avocado sandwich.  Warning – from now on, I plan to always mention delicious meals in my posts.

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My parents had already been to the Anne Frank house several times so they decided to take Isla for a walk while Nana and I went inside.  Here we are waiting in the cold to enter.

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When I got inside, I took a snap shot of this… right before a security guard ran up to me and reminded me not to take anymore pictures!  Boo.  So I have no pictures of the inside.

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It was pretty surreal to be inside the rooms where 8 people lives for over two years!  And heartbreaking.  Anne was such a vivacious, beautiful child, and she deserved so much better.  May what happened in Europe during WWII always be a warning to us all.

Also, I thought that I would include this video.  There was a part at the end of the museum where you could make a video and email it to someone and I wanted to send it to Nick.  I was going to send him a really silly video but then I thought that it might not be appropriate given where I was so, plus I didn’t know if it would be seen by more people than just Nick… I just said this…

Pretty lame.  Um, also… why didn’t anyone tell me my nose was so big??? I am seriously hoping that it is just the angle…  Nick was sweet enough to tell me that I looked pretty in it though, and without prompting!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Pit So Deep

“We have to tell them no pit is so deep, or He is deeper still.” Betsie Ten Boom, Corrie’s sister

My absolute favorite part of my trip was our visit to Haarlam to see the Corrie Ten Boom house.  What to say about her?  I could probably start an entire blog dedicated to her, she was an amazing person with a heart completely devoted to Jesus and He used her to accomplish great things for His namesake.  But I will just try to do a quick recap of her story.

Corrie was born into a family that loved Jesus and also loved God’s chosen people, the Jews.  Her family had been praying for the restoration of Israel since at least the 1840s!  Amazing.  Anyway, when the Nazis began persecuting the Jews during WWII, Corrie and her family constructed a secret hiding place to hide Jews and keep them safe.  However, they were betrayed and at the age of 52, Corrie and her sister were sent to a women’s concentration camp.  Although her sister did not survive, Corrie was released due to a paperwork error. Afterwards, in spite of her age, Corrie became a “tramp for the lord” and traveled all over the world telling people about her time in the concentration camp and about the love of Christ.  By boldly proclaiming the gospel wherever she went, God used her to win back many souls from the enemy.  I have now read “Tramp for the Lord” and I am going to buy each and every one of her books!  What a life of complete devotion to Jesus she lived, she had many amazing stories to tell!

Because the tour is in an old Dutch row house, there is no waiting room or room for one!  So we had to wait out in the freezing cold until the tour began.

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This is the plaque outside the home.  The Ten Boom family sacrificed so much, four family members died following Jesus – what amazing faith – they feared the Lord and no one else!  As a side note – I love that Isla and Corrie have the same birthday.  My sweet lucky Isla, I hope that Corrie is her hero when she gets older! 073

This was our tour guide, a believer and missionary from New Zealand living in the Netherlands.  To me, most of Europe seems like a very dark place spiritually, so it was amazing to be somewhere there where people talked about their love of Jesus freely and with conviction.  Corrie’s family was so active in spreading the gospel that I know that they would be happy that their home is still being used as an outreach center to tell people about the One Who Saves!

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A very rapt audience – even Isla… for about 2 minutes!

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“…and my sin is ever before me.” Amen.

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When the Germans raided their home, the only evidence that they could find against the Ten Boom family was the location where they hid the extra ration cards they needed to give food to the people they were sheltering.082

This was Corrie’s and Betsie’s bedroom, and where they built the secret room.  The people had to crawl into it through a secret panel built into the linen closet.  Thankfully during the raid, the Nazis were unable to find this room and all of the people hiding there were kept safe!

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Me, standing in the secret room!

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A tiny vent for air.

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Inside the secret room, it was tiny! I think that I read that during the raid there were SIX people hiding in there and they had to wait there for days until they could come out.

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Nanushka!

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The word’s of Betsie, Corrie’s sister.  She died at the age of 58 in the concentration camp.

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This plaque says “Corrie Ten Boom, Prisoner of the Lord Jesus”.

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This was the highlight of my trip, really and truly. I cannot wait to read more about the life of Corrie, an ordinary woman who was obedient to an extraordinary God!

Why Holland?

When we found out that Nick was going to be in Nigeria for two weeks and my parents and I decided to meet in the middle (between Russia and the US) somewhere, I let my mom and dad decide where we would meet.  They chose Holland.

Why Holland you ask? Because we lived there in The Hague in the 80’s for 5 years and had never returned since 1989, almost 25 years! Wow.

And in case you were wondering, we moved quite a bit growing up and I spent half of my first 18 years outside of the US living in Venezuela and The Netherlands.  That’s not as much time overseas as some people I know, but more than most. 

The first day that we met up in Holland, we first went to our hotel in Leiden (more on that later) and relaxed for a few hours and ate lunch since my mom, dad and Nana had come in early that morning.

We then spent the evening checking out all of our old houses in Wassenaar, seeing our old school the American School of the Hague, the old ABF country club, walking around the downtown area of Wassenaar (fancy schmancy!), and we went and ate at a pizza place that I remember well. 

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There was a new owner and a new name, but they still made the yummiest pizzas and they still flipped and tossed the dough in front of everyone, much to the delight of all of the watching children! And parents.

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At that point in the trip, I did not have a memory card for my camera as I had accidentally forgotten it at home.  I wish that I had been able to capture our old houses and my camera phone pictures didn’t really cut it.  Although my mother assures me that on the inside, they were absolutely hideous, on the outside they were adorable and everything you would want a house in Europe to be! 

And the town of Wassenaar was extraordinarily beautiful.  Those cobblestone streets were amazing.  I wish that I had been a little bit older when we lived there so that I could have appreciated it more!

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We only spent one evening going around Wassenaar, but since I am pretty sentimental, it was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.  I cannot believe that I was lucky enough to live there!

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